So, you’re about to welcome a puppy! Congratulations – it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
But before you bring your new puppy home, do your homework: you should know exactly what your puppy will require for his or her daily care. At the very top of the list is nutrition!
Diet: The First Few Months
In some ways, a puppy is like a human baby – he or she needs small, regular meals that are highly nutritious. Puppies usually stay with their litter until about eight weeks, when they can be safely separated from their mothers.
Unlike adult dogs, puppies need a high proportion of vitamins and minerals to support their rapidly growing bones, muscles, organs and immune systems. They should start eating solid food from about four weeks of age. This is when their rapid growth requires more calories and nutrients than their mother’s milk can provide. By six weeks, most puppies should be fully weaned. That’s when it’s time for puppy food!
Puppy food is specially designed to provide them with all these nutrients, as well as the energy they need to play and learn.
What Vitamins and Minerals Does My Puppy Need?
A quality puppy food should be in high in protein (around 24-30 per cent) to support a pup’s growing body. The food should also contain a high proportion of fat to provide energy, as well as a variety of vitamins, minerals and amino acids needed for healthy development.
Regardless what the label displays dog food often lacks necessary vitamins and minerals . Supplementation is a good way to ensure that your pup meets all of his/hers nutritional requirements. However supplements must not be used without your vet’s permission.
Some of the specific vitamins and minerals your puppy needs include:
Although your puppy should get most of their nutrition from food, a supplement is great way to ensure their intake is at its optimum. Choose a product that can be added to their daily meals, such as Flora4 Ground Sprouted Seeds Food Probiotics 8 Plus, which contains a heap of extra vitamins and minerals as well as probiotics for good digestion.
How Much Should I Feed My Pup?
Puppies grow so quickly it’ll seem like they’re hungry all the time! In the first six months of life, a puppy will eat up to four times as much as an adult dog.
From a week old, a puppy’s weight should double from what they weighed at birth. They should then gain 1-2 grams per pound of their expected adult weight per day.
The amount a dog will eat will vary, depending on their weight and age. Small, frequent meals will be easiest to digest, and will keep their energy levels steady. Be sure to follow the recommended feeding guidelines on the packaging of your puppy food. Also make sure to weigh out each serving, as most people do not use a standard measuring cup, and may siginficantly over or underfeed their puppies.
Different Types of Puppy Food
Dog food is generally available in three forms: dry kibble, semi-moist (sealed) or canned. Each type of food will benefit your puppy differently.
A great option is give your puppy a combination of moist and dry food. Not only does this provide them with the benefits of both foods, it adds variety to your puppy’s diet. You can give one type for breakfast and one for dinner, or mix the two together for convenience.
Every puppy’s needs and appetites are different. Many owners need to try a range of different foods before they find a brand that their puppy likes! As this can get expensive quickly, try to take advantage of any free sample offers available. A quick Google search can help you see what else is out there.
Once you figure out your puppy's likes and dislikes, consider signing up for a regular delivery service, sometimes called a subscription service. Not only will this save you the time and effort of lugging home heavy bags, but you can time them so that you never run out of your dog's dinner or favourite treats!
What Treats Can I Give My Puppy?
Puppies love treats – and you’ll love giving them! Just remember that too many treats can be bad for a puppy – just as too many cookies are bad for humans.As with human treats, puppy treats can be loaded with empty calories that only lead to weight gain and poor health. Vets recommend that no more than 10 per cent of calories in a dog’s diet should come from treats.
However, there are plenty of ‘healthy’ treats that your puppy will love. You can even share some healthy ‘human food’ treats with him or her, such as chopped raw carrot or chopped raw fruit, such as apple, watermelon or banana. Just remember to remove the seeds and skin! Some great low-calorie options include air-popped popcorn (hold the salt and butter!) or pieces of plain rice cakes.
If you have any concerns, you can raise them with your vet at your regularly scheduled visits. Be sure to note the particular puppy food brand and type that you are feeding your pup. Now that you’ve got your cupboards stocked, it’s time to welcome home your new friend. Good luck – let the fun and games begin!
Bio: Katie Stone is a qualified naturopath and former journalist who now roams the world as a freelance writer. Having grown up on a dairy farm in New Zealand, Katie adores all animals – especially pigs! She is also passionate about natural healthcare for pets and believes good nutrition is as important for animals as it is for humans.
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*Bernard and Kitty's Waggy Tales articles are for information purposes only and are neither intended as, nor should be substituted for professional advice, or the treatment or diagnosis of any health conditions. Information that is provided in this blog is intended for general knowledge: consult your veterinarian if you have questions about caring for your animal, or about your animal’s health or condition.
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